Newsletter July 24 2018






Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday said hatred had replaced humanity in PM Narendra Modi’s “brutal” ‘New India’, citing a report that claimed that policemen took three hours to take the Alwar lynching victim to a hospital as they took a tea-break enroute.

Rajasthan Director General of Police (DGP) said, “A four-member committee of senior police officials is in Alwar to inquire into the matter.” The DGP also said it would also be probed whether Akbar, alias Rakbar Khan, died after being thrashed by police on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.

Gandhi’s tweet seemed to have hit a nerve, with three Union ministers tweeting in response within hours.

The acting Finance Minister, Piyush Goyal, pounced on Gandhi’s remarks and called the Congress chief a “merchant of hate” while accusing him of playing divisive politics.

“Stop jumping with joy every time a crime happens, Mr Rahul Gandhi. The state has already assured strict and prompt action. You divide the society in every manner possible for electoral gains and then shed crocodile tears. Enough is Enough. You are a merchant of hate,” Goyal tweeted.

Smriti Irani, the textiles minister, tweeted: “Rahul Gandhi’s family presided over the worst form of hate in 1984, Bhagalpur & Nellie & many other instances. It is shameful that he is doing the same through vulture politics. Not a single instance goes by where he doesn’t attempt to rupture social bonds for electoral gains.”

Rajyavardhan Rathore, the sports minister’s reaction was comparatively subdued. “Mr Rahul Gandhi, STOP using a crime for political gains. The local police is already on the case. Justice will be served. Stop sowing seeds of hatred in society simply for a few votes,” he tweeted.

The Alwar lynching incident, which comes a year after dairy farmer Pehlu Khan faced the same fate, also echoed in the Parliament on Monday. Congress Lok Sabha MP Karan Singh Yadav raised the issue during Zero Hour, saying those who claimed to be ‘gau-rakshak’ (cow protectors) were behind the murder amid protests by some BJP members.

Six days after the Supreme Court denounced the “sweeping” incidents of lynching as “an affront to the rule of law” and called for a law to deal with such “horrendous acts of mobocracy”, the government Monday informed Lok Sabha that it had created a Group of Ministers under Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and a high-level committee under Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to “deliberate” and “make recommendations” for a separate penal provision on incidents of mob violence.




With the Congress targeting the government over Rafale deal, the BJP Monday dismissed questions raised by the Opposition party as a “collective singing of falsehood” to defend Rahul Gandhi, who, it said, was “prima facie guilty of breach of privilege for misleading” Lok Sabha.

Addressing the media, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The stand of the Congress on the Rafale deal is clearly not in the interest of the country.”

He cited replies in Parliament by the previous UPA governments on defence purchases and other issues in which its defence minister, first Pranab Mukherjee and then A K Antony, had declined to share price details and other information on the ground of national security. He said the UPA’s stand was right. He accused Rahul of trying to wreak havoc on India’s security for political considerations.

According to Prasad, the base price of each aircraft negotiated by the government with the French government is 91.75 million Euro — nine per cent less than the 100.85 million Euro the UPA government had decided upon. He reiterated that the NDA government has been forthcoming in declaring the aircraft’s price but details of operationally sensitive matter, including India specific enhancement and logistics support package, would end up disclosing the vital information about the Indian Air Force strength.

Prasad said Congress leaders like former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Antony may understand the sensitivity involved with the deal but were “forced” to demand that the NDA government share details of the fighter aircraft, to defend Rahul. Taking a swipe at the Congress chief, Prasad said: “Dynastic parties are always a crowd around a family. That is true of the Congress. Since a member of the family has resorted to falsehood, the crowd around the family has no option but to collectively sing the tune of falsehood. This is what has happened today,” he said.


State Bank of India issued a total of 980 electoral bonds worth Rs 438.30 crore in the first three phases of the sale of such bonds. SBI is the only authorised bank to issue and encash these bonds under the Electoral Bond Scheme, 2018 which kicked in from January 2, 2018.

Eligible political parties are allowed to encash electoral bonds only through their bank accounts. These bonds have a life of only 15 days from date of issue.

Only political parties registered under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which have secured not less than 1 per cent of the votes polled in the last election of the Lok Sabha or legislative assembly of the state, are eligible to receive electoral bonds.

These bonds can be bought only by making payments from a bank account. These bonds do not have the name of the payee, but carry unique hidden alphanumeric serial numbers as an inbuilt security feature.

While introducing the electoral bonds scheme in Parliament in January, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said electoral bonds will substantially cleanse the political donation system. “The donor will know which party he is depositing money. The political party will file return with the election commission. Now, which donor gave to which political party, that is the only thing which will not be known,” Jaitley had said.


Ratcheting up tensions with its ally BJP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said in the name of protecting the cow, India had become the most unsafe country for women. He also launched a stinging attack on the government over incidents of mob lynching across the country.

“We (Shiv Sena) never said cows should be slaughtered. But while protecting cows, India has become the most unsafe country for women. One should be ashamed of it. You want to save ‘gau-mata’ (cow) but what about ‘mata’ (mother),” Thackeray said in a no-holds-barred interview to Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’.

Thackeray said for over 25 years, the Shiv Sena and BJP were allies because of the shared ideology of Hindutva, the status of Hindus, national interest and the country’s security among others. “I do not accept the idea of Hindutva that is being adhered to in the country. In the name of saving the cow, if you are shifting focus to whether someone is eating beef or not, then it is a sham,” the Sena chief said.

Targetting the BJP for positioning itself as the sole protector of nationalism, Thackeray said the saffron party had no right to decide who was a nationalist and anti-national.







A two-month-long electioneering by candidates contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan were making last ditch efforts through public gatherings, corner meetings and door-to-door canvassing as the campaign came to close at midnight tonight, amid low voter enthusiasm and a tense security situation.

Over 12,570 candidates, including a number of hardline clerics, are contesting the elections to the parliament and four provincial assemblies.

Against the National Assembly’s seats, about 3,675 candidates are in the electoral race whereas about 8,895 for the provincial legislatures of all four provinces, according to the data shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The election campaign has generally been seen as low-key and has failed to enthuse voters as in previous polls.




A 29-year-old gunman opened fire on pedestrians in a bustling Toronto neighbourhood, killing two and wounding a dozen others, police in Canada’s largest city said on Monday, adding the suspect was found dead in an alley after an exchange of gunfire with the police.

“At approximately 10 pm, a man walking along Danforth Avenue fired shots at groups of people several times. Several people were struck. Two civilians were fatally injured,” the Ontario Special Investigations Unit said.

The gunman, who police said was 29, was not identified by name and a motive for the shooting in a district of cafes and restaurants was not immediately known.




US President Donald Trump told Iran it risked dire consequences “the like of which few throughout history have suffered before” if the Islamic Republic made more threats against the United States.

His words, spelled out in capital letters in a late night Twitter message, came hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Trump that hostile policies toward Tehran could lead to “the mother of all wars.”

Iran has faced increased US pressure and possible sanctions since Trump’s decision in May to withdraw the US from a 2015 nuclear pact.

Earlier on Sunday, Rouhani had told a gathering of Iranian diplomats: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret.” “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” said Rouhani.

Rouhani left open the possibility of peace between the two countries. But Iran’s most powerful authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday negotiations with the US would be an ‘obvious mistake’.






Two years after stringent liquor prohibition laws were introduced in Bihar, the state Assembly on Monday passed amendments aimed at “cracking down on misuse” even as the RJD-led Opposition walked out of the House.

Speaking on the need for the Bihar Prohibition and Excise (Amendment) Act, 2018, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar informed the House that the government did not want innocent people implicated or punished in the dry state.

“If one drinks or is found with a bottle of liquor in house, all adult members were held responsible for violating liquor laws and the house was seized. After the amendment, only those in inebriated state would be held accountable,” said the Chief Minister.

Also, the law earlier provided for a five-year prison term, in addition to Rs 1 lakh fine for those consuming liquor or caught in an inebriated state. “After amendments, first-time offenders will face Rs 50,000 fine or three-month jail, while subsequent offences will attract Rs 1 lakh fine or one-year jail.”

The Chief Minister said the 16 amendments were aimed at “safeguarding innocent people”.





Triggering concern among security forces in the Valley, militants have posted a new video on social networking sites, which shows at least 25 of them, all carrying guns, posing for the camera in an orchard somewhere in South Kashmir.

“It is definitely a matter of concern for us,” said a senior police officer. “If such a huge number of militants can assemble at one place and shoot a video, we must be concerned about how they managed to do this despite the presence of security forces and increased vigil, especially in South Kashmir,” he said.

“It seems this is one more attempt to attract young boys (towards militancy),” said another police officer.





Banks and financial institutions on Monday came together to stitch a pact that sets fresh terms for the resolution of stressed assets. The inter-credit agreement will be applicable to corporate borrowers who have availed themselves of loans or financial assistance of Rs 50 crore or more under consortium lending.

A clutch of banks and financial institutions that included the SBI, PNB and the LIC on Monday signed the agreement. As many as 22 public sector banks19 private sector banks and 32 foreign banks are expected to sign the agreement.

According to the agreement, if a default occurs, a lender should communicate to the lead bank (who has the maximum exposure) seeking resolution. This should be done within 30 days of the date of the default.

The lead lender should then formulate a resolution plan. The resolution plan should be approved by the “majority lenders” – those who have a share of 66 per cent in value terms of the aggregate exposure. If a majority of the lenders agree to the resolution plan, it will be binding on others to accept it.

However, the agreement has also given some options to the dissenter. For instance, a dissenting lender can sell its exposure to the lead bank at a discount of 15 per cent to the liquidation value of the asset.





The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill that allows a court hearing a cheque bounce case to direct the drawer — the person who wrote the cheque — to pay interim compensation to the person who filed the complaint.

The interim compensation, to be paid within 60 days of the court’s order, can be up to 20% of the value of the cheque. The court may direct the payee to repay the interim compensation, with interest, if the drawer is acquitted.

While moving the bill for passage, Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla said it would bring down litigation and provide credibility to cheques and the banking system.

Participating in the discussion, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said it was a good bill but not sufficient. He urged the government to include fast-track courts exclusively meant for cheque bounce cases.




Vadodara’s M.S. University has cancelled a show by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra on the campus next month after 11 alumni wrote to the vice-chancellor asking him what message the varsity was planning to send out by hosting an “anti-national flag-bearer”.

No stranger to controversy triggered by his biting humour, Kunal – who heard about the cancellation from the media – had a comeback less than 24 hours later. “Now that the auditorium is free I’d like to recommend a fellow performer… He’s an Illusionist who does Comedy, Poetry, Drama, Plays musical instruments & also dances… He has also performed many gigs abroad even at Madison Square Garden…”

And, attached a 51-second-long “audition tape” along with the tweet which borrowed heavily from the hug-ambushed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s imitation of Congress president Rahul Gandhi during the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha last Friday.




Bollywood star Alia Bhatt recently got candid about nepotism and how the concept operates in Bollywood.

“Of late, I have realised that there is no need to defend the nepotistic nature of the industry because it does exist. The reason why it has become an emotional debate is because those who don’t get a chance, it is difficult for them. If I was on the other side, I would be heartbroken. I may have felt the same way. Yes, it does exist everywhere, but this is the only business where there’s no fixed funda. You need to be at the right place at the right time. For instance, if you want to be a doctor, you study, give your examination and get a job. In the film business, you can do whatever you want, but there has to be that X-factor that people talk about,” Alia said.




In yet another move to stem the spread of fake news and misinformation through its instant messaging app, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is testing a label, which marks “unusual” links sent on chats as “suspicious”.

The company is testing this feature in a beta version of its Android app, in a bid to crack down on fake news. The way it works is by identifying the characters in the link shared and noticing unusual patterns in the web address.

For instance, sometimes, characters are camouflaged to make suspicious sites seem real. Recently, a fake email involving a UK company Global Sign was sent out to people with a link, which is not a real company website, as the official website is hosted at However, a lot of people apparently fell for the scam because the domain seemed realistic enough.





Virat Kohli feels “it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t score runs as long as India win” but England pace spearhead James Anderson says the Indian captain would be lying if he says his individual form won’t be a factor in the upcoming five-Test series starting on August 1.

In 2014, Kohli had struggled to get going and managed only 134 runs in five Tests here, one of his worst performances. It has been a blot on his stellar career to this day, even though he scored 655 runs in five Tests against England in the home series (2016-17) to lead his side to a 4-0 win.

At the beginning of the ongoing tour, Kohli had laughed off queries about his form, saying that he intends to enjoy his time here rather than obsess over his individual form as long as the team does well. “For India to win here, of course it matters. Virat will be desperate to score runs for his team, as you would expect from the captain and one of the best players in the world,” Anderson said.

The 35-year-old pacer has an outstanding record against Kohli, having dismissed him four times during the 2014 tour. However, Anderson struggled during the 2016 tour of India with modest returns of four wickets in three Tests.





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There is only one kind of failure I cannot tolerate: the failure to risk failure. – Richard Marcinko


A woman walked into the elevator tossing her keys up in the air and catching them. After one too many tosses, she dropped the keys, and we watched as they disappeared into the crack between the open doors and the floor.

I felt terrible for her. Or I did until she cried, “Oh no! Not again!”

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